Nintendo adds a new dimension to the DS

If you thought the DS Lite, DSi and DSi XL was as far as Nintendo could get to customizing its DS handheld console, think again. The company is planning a new edition with a particularly functional title: the Nintendo 3DS.

The good news is that the console won’t require the user to wear special glasses. Exactly how it will work hasn’t been detailed, though a previous demo on the DSi shows the device being turned at a 90 degree angle:

While the first response would be to assume the system is somehow using the two screens to produce the two images which make up a 3D picture, that doesn’t appear to be the case: cover up one side of the clip and you’ll see the effect still works.

The explanation instead appears to involve the DSi’s built-in cameras. The principle seems to be a simple reversal of the current set-up: if the cameras can tell where you are in relation to the screen, they can also work out the comparative position of the (imaginary) objects on the other side of the screen: that is to say, in the game world you are peering into. It appears the 3D effect only happens when you tilt the console, unlike a traditional 3D movie where the screen and your viewing position stay still.

The company isn’t giving any further details such as pricing or release date, though it’s unlikely to be imminent given that the DSi XL has just gone on sale as the premium product in the range and shouldn’t be overshadowed too quickly. The most information Nintendo has released is that it will be on sale in the company’s next financial year (April 2010 to March 2011). The console itself will be demonstrated in some form at the E3 trade show in June.

It’s not known yet if all games will be designed to be played with the screens in portrait mode. If so, the console will likely be redesigned to place the controls more conveniently.

Of course, there’s no guarantee the twin screen design will be used for the 3DS: a single large screen might be more appropriate for such a visually impressive set-up. But that seems unlikely given Nintendo has said the device will be backwards-compatible.

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